A backyard ultra is a deviously simple race. Runners just have to complete a 4.1667-mile course within a one-hour cutoff. And then do that again at the end of that hour. And again the next. And again. There's no limit on how long the race might be, (neither time nor distance). The race continues as long as there are multiple runners still on the course. The only way to finish the race is to complete the course when no other runner can.
There can be at most one finisher (and winner), while every other entrant is a DNF (did not finish).
The fastest runner won't necessarily win this race. And mental strength is every bit as important as physical strength. How long can you keep moving? If you fight hard enough to earn a DNF at a backyard ultra then you may have truly found your limit. If you win, you might still be wondering.
The 2020 Banana Slug Backyard Ultra will take place at Champoeg State Park at 8239 NE Champoeg Rd., St. Paul, OR 97137, (about 25 miles south of Portland).
The race will start precisely at 7:00 AM on April 18, 2020 with all runners present attempting to complete a 4.1667-mile course before 8:00 AM. Then at 8:00 AM, another loop will be started. This will continue until there is a loop where only a single runner is able to complete the loop within the time limit, (or, perhaps until there's a loop with no finisher).
Given this format, it's hard to predict when the race will end. Runners should come fully prepared to run through the night, (bring reflective clothing, headlamps, and extra batteries).
The race uses a lovely system of trails at Champoeg State Park. The first loop follows a single-track trail through trees and alongside the Willamette river with scenic views. The final portion of this 4.1667-mile loop is on a paved bike path.
This same trail course will be used for the first 12 hourse of the race. At 7:00 PM the race will switch to the night course which is entirely paved, (both bike path and a road that is closed to vehicles at night). The race will switch back to the trail course at 7:00 AM the next morning and continue switching back and forth between these two courses every 12 hours until the race is complete.
Camp sites are available to runners that select the camping option during registration. Camping fees are included in the registration. Race-packet pickup and campsite setup will be available at 6:00 PM on Friday, April 17. Those who are not camping will be able to pick up their race packets the morning of the event at 6:00 AM.
We should have some time for good socialization Friday night at the camp site, and we will plan to do a course walkthrough for anyone who would like to preview it.
Champoeg Park has restrooms and showers available. A restroom is accessible very near the beginning of the race course on every loop (day or night).
For any time that runners have available between loops, we have a large, covered pavilion available with picnic tables. If runners wish to bring personal supplies (such as camp chair, cooler, duffel bag) there will be room to store all of those under the covered pavilion. These items and the pavilion will be easily accessible during "interloopal" periods (as the pavilion is immediately adjacent to the start/finish line).
The race will provide an aid station at the start/finish pavilion with at least water and fruit (bananas of course!). No aid stations are provided along the course, (but of course, you'll be returning to the start regularly). Runners are encouraged to bring preferred food and beverage as needed for an endurance race.
Your registration fee (paid in advance here on the website) includes participation in the race itself as well as camping, day-use, and parking fees (for one vehicle) for the state park. So, do not pay any additional fees when entering the park!
Any spectators driving their own vehicles will need to pay the standard $5 fee for day-use parking.
A portion of the proceeds from the race will be donated to Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue, a local all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to providing Search and Rescue assistance for people who are lost or injured out of doors.
Registration is now available for $75
The Backyard Ultra was invented by Lazarus "Laz" Lake who has been hosting Big's Backyard Ultra in his own backyard (and with his dog, Big) since 2011.
After Johan Steene won the race in 2018 (68 loops, 283.33 miles) a number of "affiliated" and "Golden Ticket" backyard ultra races sprang up all over the world. The winner of any golden ticket race wins automatic entry into the next Big's Backyard Ultra. However, only a limited number of finishers from affiliated backyard ultra races will be granted admission to Big's, (those who complete the most loops will be considered first).
In 2019, after Maggie Guterl (60 loops, 250 miles) defeated golden ticket winners from all over the world, Carl Worth was so captivated by the race format that he wanted to try one himself. But after noticing that there is no existing backyard ultra in Oregon, (and apparently nobody from Oregon has ever entered Big's Backyard Ultra), he decided he'd have to organize a backyard ultra for Oregon. So the Banana Slug Backyard Ultra was born.
If you have any questions about this crazy race, or if you would like to volunteer to help make this race a success, please don't hesitate to email Carl Worth <email@example.com>